HC Deb 23 June 1899 vol 73 cc443-4

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the large number of painful deaths by poisoning from carbolic acid; whether he is aware that coroners have repeatedly urged that carbolic acid should only be sold as a scheduled poison, and that the Pharmaceutical Society has, in accordance with Section 2 of the Pharmacy Act of 1868, applied to the Privy Council to add it to the list of poisons controlled by that Act, but without effect; whether in Ireland carbolic acid has been scheduled as a poison, and can only be sold by qualified persons, and if he can explain why the Privy Council has refused to schedule carbolic acid; and whether it is proposed to deal with the subject in any other way.


I am aware that a considerable number of deaths yearly are due to carbolic acid poisoning, and that it has frequently been suggested that the sale of carbolic acid should be placed under restrictions such as apply to poisons named in the schedule to the Pharmacy Act of 1868. Some years ago the Pharmaceutical Society did apply for the insertion of carbolic acid in that schedule; but it was considered that the gain to the public would not be commensurate with the inconvenience arising from the restrictions, and the application has not been recently renewed. I believe that the Irish Government have scheduled carbolic acid, but that was done under an Irish Act and without consulting the Privy Council in this country. I understand that the objections to scheduling this poison in England have now been lessened by the fact that regulations for the keeping, dispensing, and selling of poisons within the meaning of the Act of 1868 have now been prescribed, and that the Privy Council are prepared to consider whether carbolic acid can advantageously be dealt with in some way, but they cannot take any action except upon a resolution of the Pharmaceutical Society.